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Can't make friends because my life is too chaotic.

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I post now and again about our personal situation. Long and short of it, I am married to a man who is mentally ill. As in, this is a disabling situation. He does get therapy. We split up for a while because of it but we are now back together and I have no intentions of leaving him. We have moved cross-country twice in a year now, and are currently essentially homeless and staying with family. For the past month we've been dealing with multiple times a week in the ER for panic attacks. He is being treated but even with the best advocacy there is only so much they can do without making him an inpatient (again). He is now convinced he is dying of cancer and is contemplating suicide, calling crisis lines, I'm basically supervising him to make sure he doesn't kill himself, I have no time to myself, etc. The trouble is, now and again when things are easier (when his meds are working, when he's more stable) I would love to have some friends. Not a full blown social life, but I would like some friends. Even my online friends have kind of dropped me lately, and all my old friends from way back when... we just cannot relate. I don't really want to deal with a SUPPORT group - I don't want my very limited social time out to be dealing with how to be a caregiver etc. If I meet some cool people, I want to just hang out with them locally without dealing with that sort of thing. I just want to be normal. I want friends I have things in common with outside the mental health issues. I want my nice crunchy stay-at-home mama friends.

I met a nice bunch of people here lately (in person) through LLL and some babywearing group stuff, but they're always posting on FB about their, well, normal lives. And when we get together, and they see a ring on my finger, there's always the questions. What does your husband do? Nothing. What do you do? Be an unpaid caregiver for him. What brings you guys to move here? Well, cos we don't have anywhere else to live except at my mother's house. What do you guys do for fun? Chill in the ER. Want to come to the farmer's market this weekend? No, can't, husband refuses to leave the house. Want to join the babysitting swap? No, I don't want other kids around him because if he freaked out they might get scared, and I can't schedule things ahead of time because what if he has an issue and I have to cancel? Do you guys allow TV? Well, when I had my own house, no, but here TV is front and center of the house and I can't tell my mom she's not allowed to watch it in her own house. Of course, I don't actually SAY those things, but what else can I do but kind of dance around the issues? And if I can't follow up with plans to meet for a playdate in the park, because I have to hold my husband's hand through another panic attack, then I seem like the flake. They tell me about a romantic night they had with their partner, and I just get, sad. Or a single mom tells me about her adventures in dating, and I still can't relate.

I guess this is just a vent. I just want to have normal friends with people I have things in common with. Instead, my life revolves around mental illness. I'm not even 30 and all my dreams are like, gone... Anyway, that's all. Guess there isn't much else to say at the moment. I'm just down.
post #2 of 25

I wish I knew what to tell you. I don't really have any friends that are local. I'm not a social butterfly, and I feel like if I join a playgroup, I'll be judged for how many kids I have at such a young age. I go to NA sometimes, but that's as far as I relate to most of the people there and the ones I do relate to are in their 40's. I just need a job after I pop this baby out. I got my socialization from the workplace when I was working. Only thing is, I haven't had a job since April 2009. I have mental illness myself, and my life revolves around the kids and staying well for them.

post #3 of 25

I know you say you're just venting, and maybe just want hugs and sympathy. You do have my sympathy, for sure. However, I also want to say that if you have to be on suicide watch 24-7 indefinitely then maybe your DH does need inpatient care. That's way too much responsibility to take on alone, and it's really not fair on you. Or your children.

 

When he does become stabilized on his meds and less needy, what's stopping you from having friends? Is it because you feel you have nothing in common with them because of your husband's illness? If so, don't let that stop you. You certainly don't need to tell everyone everything (although you can if you want), but there is nothing wrong with explaining to people who get closer the real reason why you can't join the babysitting pool. You'd be surprised how many people deal with mental illness. It doesn't get talked about. I myself have an anxiety disorder (clearly, not as serious as your husand's) and I hid it for a long time. Then something clicked and I thought, screw it! I'm going to explain to people why I won't eat their food and why I do some strange things sometimes. I haven't lost any friends over it. If anything, it allows people to tell their own stories, and then everyone feels better. 

 

Friends are necessary for health. Seriously. They're not optional. 

 

All the best to you and your family. I hope your DH gets to a better place and I really do hope you go out and meet people. Even without an ill spouse, it's difficult to make friends, but it can be done. :)

post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies.

I hope I didn't come out as judgmental about how I'm tired of our life revolving around this. When I was growing up our life at home revolved around my father's being ill. He was always on the verge of dying (literally). He finally passed away when I was a young adult. I didn't have a childhood or teenagerhood (or whatever that's called) to speak of because we were always praying for him getting better, etc. Then I grow up, jump into marriage right after college (which, I don't regret) and it turns out that there's pretty much no break here, either. I moved from my house to living with my now-DH. He had his first inpatient stay when I was pregnant with my older child. He's been in and out of the hospital since then.

He's usually NOT on suicide watch but in the past month he has been because he's convinced he has a fatal cancer (he has had tests for it and there's no indications to confirm his suspicion except for a tingling in his chest). He is probably getting hospitalized tomorrow again for a few months of mental health stuff. It sucks.

Also... I do love him. That's all there is to it. I'm not blaming him for any of this. It's just, hard, I guess. I also have plenty of stuff of my own to deal with (anxiety, depression, etc.) but I feel I don't really have the space to address them because we're always focused on his stuff. We don't really have anyone for social support and no money for sitters etc so I'm always on duty for both the kids and for him and it's just, I dunno, hard.
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Also, the kids are supposed to start school tomorrow. I wanted so badly to homeschool them but I think it'd be good for them to get some peace from the constant stress of being at home with us. However, we are a one car family and tomorrow we have to drive DH to the hospital for his mental health evals. It's in another city and I have to drive him because if they keep him I will need to drive back. So, chances are the children won't even be able to go to their first day of school, which they have been totally psyched for and counting down the days til for two months now. It just seems like everything is so hard lately...
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
I also am going through the end stages of a very early miscarriage and have come down with bronchitis to boot. I get a cursory "I'm sorry you're having trouble" and then we go right back to talking about how his chest tingles and how I'm not showing enough concern that he is dying. Like, I just feel that no one cares about me. And I don't feel right venting to any of my old friends because honestly, how would you feel if someone you used to know way back when just wants to spill negative stuff to you all the time? I try to focus on the positive, but having to move around so much, effectively being homeless, health issues, the lack of stability... who wants to have the friend with the issues all the time? I don't typically feel sorry for myself. I keep busy with reading, noveling, crafts (just loving a sewing machine I found) etc. Gardening when I have the opportunity. Knitting, whatever. I'm not miserable. But I just feel like there's so much I want to talk about with someone but I can't seem to make friends because whenever I say anything about my life it leads to questions which leads to more questions which leads to them thinking I must be a very unstable person. I don't think I am. I know my life is unstable but I myself am not... If that makes sense... I dunno.
post #7 of 25

I don't know that I could be a sole caregiver for someone as progressed as that. My hope for you is that when he's committed for the short time he's going is to focus solely on you so you can get rid of the junk that's stored up in your heart and mind.

post #8 of 25

Not judgmental at all. It's completely understandable that you are tired of this. Moving frequently is definitely not a community builder. I wonder if there are any advocacy/support groups in your area that deal with mental illness in families? At the very least, you would have things in common to discuss. 

post #9 of 25

This is a tough situation you are in and you are a strong person for sure. As others have said friends are vital and not optional. Connecting, sharing and communicating is vital and healthy, especially for women. I think you might reconsider meeting others through a support group. That arena might be a good starting point because they will understand the basic dynamic of your relationship and life in general. I would just be honest and say "hey, I am looking for some friends to occassionally hang out with and not talk about our SO's or mental illness, medications, appointments etc. Anyone here like to knit, see a movie or go on a garden tour?"

 

I am sure there are others who feel the same way and are looking for the same kinds of friends. You deserve support and some people in your life that are just for you!

 

Take care,

 

Rhianna

post #10 of 25

I can sympathize, a bit. I live far from family and friends and have a hard time making friends because my son's special needs (asperger's, spd, adhd) and violent meltdowns make it hard to mesh with the other mommies. I don't have great advise or anything, just sympathy because it's really hard when your life is stressful and you don't have friends to fall back on.

 

(also, I did not mean to click the "I think this post is great" button. I don't think it's great that you are so stressed and lonely. At all. Sorry about that.)  

post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies...

At this point I wouldn't even be able to go to a support group because I doubt there's one that allows kids.

DH has been admitted as an inpatient. It was miserable when I took him in because I was trying to go in with him to the ER and talk to triage with him, and an orderly was kind enough to watch the kids while I was there, and another orderly yelled at me to "just call a friend, kids don't belong here" - well, um. Yeah, OK, why didn't I think of that?! Like that's where I want my kids to be?! Watching their father curled up in a ball crying in the hospital, and them not even really thinking it's a big deal cos they're so used to it? It was pretty pathetic when I had to tell them that I'd love to, but I don't have anyone to call. And he gave me a look and said, "you don't have a single friend?" And I had to be all, nope, not a one.

Yep, that was the highlight of my week.

Sigh.

Anyway at least he's being under watch now, even though I can't communicate with him. Argh. So hard to have strangers tell you when you are or are not allowed to talk to your husband, and then go days without being able to. It's like he's in prison or something, except he didn't do anything wrong. And I can't even VISIT him because kids aren't allowed in. Good Lord. It gets better and better. I'm sure I'll figure something out but honestly. Anyway, at least I get to get some peaceful sleep and stuff while he's not here. But it just feels like the world is a big place when there's no one to call except to some strangers on the Internet, no home to live in other than my mom's, no income, blah blah. Screw this, I'm going to Disney World. wink1.gif We got season passes as a present and it's only a short drive away, so why not, right? The kids were sad that their dad wasn't allowed home and said it was my fault for leaving him at the hospital. Maybe that'll cheer them up. Maybe I'll make friends with Minnie Mouse. =P This is a good time to make friends in person, I know. I'll probably go on meetup to find some playdates or something.
post #12 of 25

I'm sorry, Seawitch. It must be so hard. What about your mom? You're living with her, right? Could she watch your kids for an hour or two while you attend a support group or visit your husband?

post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
We're living in her house but right now she's in another one of her houses. She said that she would come down here and help us out if we needed but when I told her what happened she said she was busy. She was supposed to be back here by the end of June but every week when I ask if she's coming she says next week, next week.
post #14 of 25

:(  Personally, I would schlep the kids down to a support group. Who knows, you might find someone there who can help or who is aware of resources. I have moved many times, so I know the isolation you are talking about, and adding the difficulty of your husband's illness...hard. 

post #15 of 25

... Seawitch, my husband convinced himself of so many things overtime... He's also a recluse and suffers from mental illness.  I take care of him.  For the most part I can count on him for atleast picking up the kids from school... if he remembers to take them.  And they're pretty shiesty they won't even get ready if it's daddy's day. 

 

I do understand what you are going through.  I've been going through this for 12 years.  Though he's never been committed... geez louise that would be a bit of a break for me, he's kept me busy.  I also just went through an m/c and I understand the switch back on their certain death or need for your attention.  I have friends and keep them.  Because they know about him.  I tell them.  If they don't want to deal with my constant change of plans then they usually don't stick around.  However, I've found that most of them do stick around.  Maybe they just love my interesting life.  Either way I generally take my kids with me every where and rarely do they stay with him.  You can have friends, you just have to be honest about your life.  And maybe you need to find people that know what you're going through.  One of my best friends is an anxiety ridden mess.  But she's a blast to be around.  And If I have to call her and tell her it's a no go because DH isn't doing well, she gets it. 

 

Though it's hard right now, remind yourself why you're with him.  Mental illness is just like cancer.  It's devastating.  But before I leave you I will leave you with a laugh or maybe not. 

 

DH has had...

the Hanta virus... our neighbors had rats

Lupus... my friend had lupus

Atleast 15 heart attacks

bugs in his brain

Possible lung failure

Cancer

Iron deficiency... which he felt would lead to a certain death

hearing loss... he can hear me

numerous possible broken bones

and sleep disorders... as in he stayed up all night playing a video game and couldn't wake up before 5 pm due to exhaustion.  That one I'm iffy on. 

 

Sometimes I just have to laugh, to myself of course he'd be hurt otherwise.  And sometimes I just wonder WHY in gods name did I stay with this man.  I stayed because I love him.  And because my children have grown up understanding mental illness and they love their daddy and are such a blessing and help to us both. 

 

Though you're down right now, you're right you do need to focus on you for a bit.  And if he's committed that's they time you do it.  While he's well that's also the time to do it. 

 

Good luck.

post #16 of 25

I'm also going to say something that I may be jumped on for saying. I say this as a sufferer myself. I myself have had numerous "heart attacks", "cancers," etc. Even hantavirus (and the neighbours didn't have rats). Oh, and the plague. I've had that too. Yup, totally understand where your husbands are coming from, although they both sound perhaps a little more severe than me. The thing that really helped me manage the anxiety and hypochondria over the years was the fact that I was on my own and other people were depending on me. Over the years I've pushed through so many attacks because my kids needed me, and there was no one take over for me. So...I don't know...how about stepping back a little? I mean, obviously not when he's suicidal, but when he's a little more stable. 

 

Also, another tool that has been an immense help is learning to laugh at myself. When I'm in the throes of panic because I"m going to die, there's a part of my brain that's still detached and logical. That part is laughing at me. That part can see the ridiculous nature of spending time worrying about having the plague. When I can't quite get past it, I talk to my husband about whatever's going on and we laugh about it together. Would your husband be open to seeing the funny side of hypochondria? Speaking for myself, being able to laugh at myself has provided a great sense of relief because the constant worrying, it gets tiring, even for the one doing it. 

 

There is definitely a time and a place for therapy, and believe me, I've done a fair bit of it. But one pitfall of therapy is that it's very self-intensive and it doesn't have much of a sense of humour, you know? It's all very serious. 

 

edited for clarity


Edited by Annie Mac - 8/31/11 at 7:09am
post #17 of 25

Thanks for sharing Annie,  I think it's important to hear what others who suffer think.  There are a lot of things that are my DH's responsibility.  Like dishes and some laundry, caring for the pets and the kid shuttling twice a week.  That's a lot for him and though he doesn't complain I can see how drained he is.  So I think you're right about that.

 

However if constant care is required, it's no longer a relationship and it's no longer fair to the kids.  I'm not saying give up.  I'm saying look forward and decide what's right for all of you.

post #18 of 25
Thread Starter 
I got to see him today, yay. Of course that was my "free time" when the kids were in preschool and I was supposed to be working but oh well.

Yeah, he is supposed to do chores but he doesn't. He says he will and they just don't get done. He does feel bad about them but, he just, I dunno, forgets? Or is preoccupied?

At one point when he was doing as well as he ever was we actually split up because I thought he was just using me to do stuff for him and I felt taken advantage of. I thought, then, that it was an act or something. He nearly starved himself. He's over six feet tall and supposed to weight around 200 for his frame and he stopped eating for months and he was down to 130 lbs when he got admitted to the hospital. He just went to work and came home and sat there until it was time to go to work again. I didn't know this at the time. If I don't put food in front of him, he won't eat. Even if there is food in the house. Even if I make him food earlier and tell him to take it out of the fridge. He just won't unless I put it in front of him. That's just one thing. Or he'll leave and wander on his own. Or, or. The kids aren't supposed to be left alone with him. Sometimes when he's doing well I will leave them alone for a few minutes with him but it's not like he can watch them regularly when I'm supposed to be working or anything. I don't feel they're safe in his care. It's heartbreaking. =( And I can't get childcare aid if there's a parent at home with them that I happen to be married to. Even with a doctor's note (which he has) I can't do it, it's policy. I can't get a job where I make enough to cover childcare and live on. Hell, I probably couldn't make much more a month THAN childcare, especially not quality childcare. I don't have any work history whatsoever. Ugh, just ugh.

I do feel we have a relationship and I do feel close to him and when he's, for lack of a better term, lucid, things are just fine. We get along, he loves the kids, the kids love him, we love each other, we have great talks, goals, dreams. Then when he's... well, when he's "not all there" it's like... I dunno. It's hard.

Thanks for sharing the stories.

I esp. liked the list of ailments. Well, not "liked". DH has also had AIDS, a stroke, various STD's, cancer, this, that. The "funniest" one was when he was convinced his skin was turning into scales. It's called something like ichtyosis or something. We still joke about the time he thought he was turning into a fish, but I'm afraid I find it "funnier" than he does. Except it's not funny at all, it's more heartbreaking, but whatever....
post #19 of 25

I understand how hard it is.  Hey what's his family like.  And if they're doing okay, were they always that way or have they had their ups and downs?  DH's fathers side has some suicidals and interesting people.  All of them have addictive behaviors.  When DH was on Paxil his addictions were unreal.  I actually couldn't give him any money, he would drink 6 to 8 redbulls a day and smoke 4 packs a day as well as herbal remedies.  Since he got off it all... believe it's been a hard 6 months.  I've seen him drink maybe on redbull a day and maybe 1/2 a pack. 

 

Also you should be able to get him on disability.  If he's been committed it isn't easy but it's doable.  My friend was admitted last year and she was given disability until she decided that she could do it on her own and then just one got a job and got off it. 

post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
He's been at 70% disability since his first inpatient stay in 2006. Wait, no. He got on disability back at the end of 2005. That was before his first inpatient stay. It just took a year to process. We've been appealing for 100% since then. No dice so far. He's appealed and gotten advocates and this and that but they keep turning him down. In January he finally got a doctor who said he was a shoe-in basically but every few months we still get a form later saying how backed up they are. He gets temp 100% when he's an inpatient but we haven't even SEEN that pay for his last stays... and those are guaranteed. That's how backed up they are in the claims department. I tried to apply or SS but it's just as hard if not harder, plus we keep switching states so we have to start all over every time we move.

The 100% is a big deal not only because it's an almost living wage (70% is below FPL) but it would provide health care to our family. The medicaid limit was like $14 under what we got from the VA last time we checked, or something ridiculous like that. So we couldn't even qualify for medicaid (well, the kids could, I couldn't) and we racked up some pretty medical bills from my stay in the hospital, let me tell you. But he was trying to seek employment then and so he didn't want the 100% then. He can't really handle employment, though, that much is clear, the stress was way too much for him. So now he's willing to seek unemployability / 100%. Which would help out our family SO, SO, SO much. But. If we try to push for it I almost feel like people think he's faking his symptoms to get money. Which he is NOT. I can't imagine someone who's less employable than him, though. Well, I guess I can, but he's at that point where our family literally can, not, function without some sort of help. And I'm so sad that there are so many OTHER families in this position that the VA just can't keep up... I don't blame them, they're doing the best they can, but it's just such a shitty thing.

He was adopted so we have no idea about the bio side of his family...

SIGH! Lol. It's a pity party all around. =P I'm glad/not glad to see you sharing your background. It's not like I would wish this stuff on anyone but it sure does help with the feeling that "we're just a mutant freak family and no one can possibly understand us" stuff. =P I might be exaggerating a bit but some days it seems like that. eyesroll.gif
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